A comment worthy of a response

If you didn’t read my piece on public financing the other day, you may have missed Ron George’s response in the comments section. Since I set my links to open up in a new window, you can easily leave the post up for reference.

The upshot of what George argues – repeatedly – is that “public financing” is somewhat of a misnomer because no tax dollars are used; the funding was from a line item where taxpayers could add a contribution to their tax payment. In looking at recent tax forms, though, the last year that option was in effect was for tax year 2009. In 2010 it was replaced by a solicitation for the Developmental Disabilities Waiting List Equity Fund. So I’m quite surprised Martin O’Malley didn’t empty the campaign financing fund during the interim.

Anyway, it’s money collected from the people of Maryland and placed in a fund maintained by the state government. Personally I think people would have been better off keeping their cash but it is what it is.

The other point Ron makes comes with this statement:

As a delegate, my ability to fundraise will be limited so I accept limits in the amount I will raise and I receive some money while concentrating on the session.

Obviously this makes a lot more difference during a campaign season where the break between the end of session and the primary is compressed to just 10 weeks, as opposed to the old calendar where there were five months between session and primary. Given Ron’s argument that the Virginia election took valuable resources – perhaps tenuous; then again look at what the Maryland-based Conservative Victory PAC did – it’s likely that fundraising could pick up and this is Ron’s opportunity to keep the lights on and concentrate on his job serving the people of his district for one last session.

Yet one still has to ask why the state (and eventually, counties) should be involved in the process. I can understand the “political machine” argument, but the problem with public financing is that it’s just as likely a donated dollar can go to a politician I disagree with as it can one with whom I’m foursquare. I have no control over the recipent as I would with a direct donation. So I would encourage counties not to adopt the practice, and judge Heather Mizeur and Ron George (if he chooses the option) accordingly.